In 1998, Mrs. Marjorie Webster of Winnetka, Illinois, established an endowment to support AIA lectures in memory of her husband, Roderick S. Webster (1915-1997), former Curator and Chairman of the Board of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Illinois. Roderick and Marjorie Webster first came to the Adler Planetarium in 1962 as volunteer supervisors of the scientific instrument collection, which was formed in 1930 when Max Adler founded the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum and purchased approximately 500 astronomical, navigational, and mathematical instruments from Anton Mensing in the Netherlands. In 1969 the Websters were appointed Co-Curators, and in 1991 they became Curators Emeriti. During their tenure, they traveled widely to study collections of scientific instruments and turned the Adler's Webster Institute for the History of Astronomy, which today contains more than 2000 instruments and models from the 12th through the 20th centuries, into the largest collection of such material in the Western Hemisphere and one of the most significant in the world. The Webster Institute is also home to an outstanding library of rare and modern books, a collection of works on paper, and the Adler Planetarium's Institutional Archives.
Marjorie Webster continued to be Curator Emerita at the Webster Institute for the History of Astronomy until her death on May 8, 2011. She received her education in archaeology at Sarah Lawrence College and the University of California at Berkeley.
R. S. Webster Lecturers are chosen by the Lecture Program Committee of the AIA.